Monday, December 24, 2007

Mohammed Choukri: The Moroccan Bukowski

"Mohamed Choukri is one of North Africa's most controversial and widely read authors. The distinguished writer Paul Bowles, perhaps best known for his novel The Sheltering Sky, worked closely with Choukri on the translation of For Bread Alone, and penned the introduction.

"For Bread Alone is autobiographical. After a childhood of poverty and petty crime, Choukri learned how to read and write at the age of twenty, after a bout in prison. He then became a teacher and writer, finally being awarded the chair of Arabic Literature at Ibn Batuta College in Tangier. Choukri died of cancer in 2003 at the age of sixty-four. His life is now captured in a film where Choukri himself makes a brief appearance.

"The book itself was banned in Arab countries for its sexual explicitness. Dar al-Saqi was the first publishing house to publish it in Arabic in 1982, thirty years after it was written, though many translations came out before the Arabic version. [...]"